Jury selection begins in murder trial
Published: Monday, January 14, 2013 at 1:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 14, 2013 at 1:11 p.m.
A woman indicted for murder in the 2012 beating, stabbing death of a 78-year-old Gainesville man went on trial Monday with the possibility of life in prison if convicted.
In addition to the murder charge, Maranda Joy Martin, 23, of Gainesville, is facing conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, grand theft and aggravated fleeing from law enforcement — 10 counts in all.
During jury selection Monday, potential jurors were asked if they had any personal or family history similar to the charges in the case, and if they recognized any names related to the trial. They also were asked if they knew any of the other potential jurors.
People with those perceived conflicts to the case were asked by lawyers to discuss them further, but none in the room voiced concerns about an ability to be fair.
Martin and her cousin Austin Mark Jones, 23, from Fort White, are accused of breaking into the home of Paul Quandt on Jan. 9, 2012. Martin was a former home aide of Quandt's, who lived in the Blues Creek community of homes off Northwest 43rd Street.
Police say the pair bound Quandt's hands with duct tape, beat and stabbed him, and shot him with a stun gun. They ransacked his house and stole more than $20,000 worth of gold, silver and coins as well as guns, electronics and cash, authorities said.
Quandt was left for dead. But after the attackers left, he used cooking oil to loosen the bonds on his hands and drove his electric wheelchair to the house of a neighbor, who alerted police. He told the neighbor he was attacked by two people in masks, and then he lost consciousness.
Officers spotted Jones in Quandt's white Cadillac coming out of a nearby Weschester community and gave chase. They caught Jones when he crashed into two vehicles at Southwest Fifth Avenue and 13th Street. Martin turned herself in shortly afterward.
Authorities say Quandt died from his injuries 10 days later. The pair were indicted in February.
Immediately after the indictments were issued, State Attorney Bill Cervone announced that he would be seeking the death penalty for Jones. Because of the severity of the charges, Martin could face life in prison. Cervone has told The Sun that Martin recruited Jones and set up the robbery, but Jones did the actual beating. He said that's why the state is seeking the death penalty for Jones. There's a difference between legal and moral culpability, he said, and Jones has both.
Jones' trial date has not been set.
Both have been held in the Alachua County jail since they were apprehended.
Correspondent Jessica Kegu contributed to this report.